KUALA LUMPUR – Technical issues at the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore, combined with an increase in passport renewal applications during the Covid-19 pandemic, contributed to long lines outside the mission recently, according to the Malaysian Immigration Department.
In a statement, Malaysian Immigration Chief Khairul Dzaimee Daud said that a passport printing machine at the high commission is currently out of service and experiencing technical difficulties.
Datuk Khairul also revealed that the number of passport renewal applicants had doubled in the last week, to around 450 per day, causing long lines outside the mission.
This is due to Malaysians in Singapore being unable to return home to renew their passports as a result of the two countries’ border closure last year.
“Malaysians residing in Singapore are advised to use our services online to avoid congestion,” Mr Khairul said in a statement.
The Straits Times reported on Thursday that long queues at the High Commission in Jervois Road have been a persistent problem throughout the coronavirus outbreak, according to Malaysians.
Many people have taken to social media to vent their anger.
According to the statement, the immigration department has been using an online appointment system since February. It added that online passport renewal applications would be processed in 4 to 5 weeks.
However, Mr Khairul claimed that the number of walk-in applicants has risen dramatically in recent days.
Mr. Khairul stated that those who need to extend their work permits in the near future will be given priority for passport renewal.
The department has requested permission from Singapore to allow technicians to perform equipment repairs.
On Friday, Malaysia’s opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition pressed Foreign Minister Hishamuddin Hussein to clarify the long lines, saying it was “disgraceful” to Malaysia that technology was not effectively used to deal with such issues. Meanwhile, in Johor, a member of the Malaysian opposition DAP has urged the government to appoint a High Commissioner to Singapore, citing the position’s 11-month vacancy. The position “urgently” needs to be filled, according to Tan Hong Pin, an assemblyperson for Skudai, to ensure smooth operations at the high commission.